A righteous king is corrupted by a magical object that has consciousness.
|2,602 words Prompt: Write from the point of view of a magical object.
I was brought forth over a thousand years ago. I’ve seen kingdoms rise and fall. Wars have been fought over me. My name is Evermore, the scepter of power. My magical ability has been used for good and evil. My magical endowment includes the knowledge to see into the hearts of those who wield me. But now I will recount the occurrences that finally destroyed me and let my essence pass on to the mystical beyond.
I recall the king named Diethen who took me from the wizard Corinth who abused my power for evil. He was a mad man who sought to destroy all life on earth. But Diethen beguiled the sorcerer to make him think the righteous king was a follower. When Diethen was close enough to Corinth, the king plunged a dagger into the chest of the foul human.
And so began the reign on King Diethen. I can remember his oration to the people of kingdoms below his balcony.
“To the people of all kingdoms, today a great feat has been performed. The wicked wizard Corinth has been vanquished and the scepter of Evermore taken from him. Now a new era of peace will ensue. I vow to use the magical scepter to justly rule the realm.”
Diethen was a righteous soul. But no human is free from the temptation of power. Within in his heart pride was building. It began to fester over the years. He began to establish a burdensome tax from all other kingdoms.
I still hear the argument between him and his adviser Talith.
“My Lord, the realm cannot stand for such taxes! It’s crippling their daily life! Have you seen the state of Nethaal!”
Diethen slammed his fist on the golden table before him. “I am the grand emperor! The savior of Earth!”
“Do you hear yourself! Power has tainted you!”
“I am the king! It is my right!”
Talith began to weep. “What happened to that kind and noble ruler I knew and respected?”
Within Diethen there still was a thread of honor and integrity. Good and evil battled in his heart. The king’s eyes glazed over and he reeled back. “I…I…can’t…leave me.”
“Do you understand?”
“Leave me!” the king shouted. “I must be alone with my thoughts.”
Talith sighed. “Very well my king.” The good adviser turned and left the king in his throne room.
Early the next day, the king rose from his bed. He walked to the balcony and looked at the sun shining over the crest of the Pale Mountains. His heart still burned with apprehension over the altercation from the day before. “Ah, I feel like horse ride through the forest.”
King Diethen dressed and descended the staircase to the base floor, holding me in his right hand. He went to the stables and got a black horse called Midnight. The trees and grass of the Emerald Forest always calmed him. He hastened to the forest in deep contemplation.
At last he arrived at the forest border. He entered at a steady pace on his mount. He looked around at the lush, vibrant emerald green leaves and grass that gave the forest its name. Birds fluttered from branch to branch. To his left, a squirrel scampered up an oak tree. A light gale ruffled his short blond hair.
Then he saw movement among tall bushes. It could have been an animal but something it his gullet told him it was more than that. He pointed me in the direction of the emerging body, ready to cast a magical attack on whoever was before him. His heart froze as he beheld the man before him.
“Corinth! But I destroyed you!”
“I am not him. I am Nithos, his brother.”
“What do you want!” the king demanded.
“I’ve met you for a dire reason. The scepter of Evermore is poisoning your soul. You must relinquish it to me so I might destroy it.”
“Never! You just want it for yourself. You’re like your brother. All you seek is destruction!”
“The scepter is too powerful to anyone to bear. It will bring death to you and the realm.”
“How dare you! Leave or it will be your demise to worry about!”
“You’ve made your decision. And you will regret it.” Nithos snapped his fingers and vanished in a plume of blue smoke.
Diethen was at a loss and in thought: What kind of man would be foolish enough to just ask for the scepter? He obviously wielded magic like his brother. Why did he not use it to steal it from me? Whatever, he must have been mad like Corinth.
I felt the rage, greed and power lust build in Diethen’s darkening soul. It grieved me. But I completely realized and agreed with Nithos’ intent. My end had to come. My creator who had forged me, Merlin, meant it for good and to uphold justice and peace. But it seemed no other man had wisdom to own it.
King Diethen returned to the castle and went to his chamber. He sat at his green marble table and sunk down in his seat. He grabbed his scalp. “Everything is happening so fast. I need to relax.”
Diethen clutched a golden cup with jewels on it and poured some red wine into it from a silver ewer. He sipped it and sat it down.” He brooded for a few moments. He looked at a tall statue of a white porcelain winged angel.
“If only I were like that statue – so regal, so serene, so majestic, so revered.” Then an evil thought went into his heart. “Perhaps I can.” He smiled coyly and jumped from his seat then rushed out of his chamber as he held me tightly.
I realized his vile intention and it grieved me deeply. I felt his heart swell with pride as he approached the head chamberlain. “Chamberlain Derress, inform all the blacksmiths of the castle. I have an urgent project I want commenced immediately. I want the blacksmiths in the main hall within the hour.”
Diethen went to his throne room and waited for the blacksmiths to assemble. Soon a servant reported to him. “My Lord, the blacksmiths have gathered.”
The king rose and walked pompously to the men at the entrance of his throne room.
“My favored servants, I have decided to erect a statue in my honor. It is to be quite grand. Moreover, it will be made of solid gold and be fifty feet tall.”
A blacksmith spoke up. “But that would take more than the gold we have.”
“Then get it from the other kingdoms! I will have my monument! Make it in the courtyard and start today. I don’t care how long it takes! Do it!” Diethen spun around and stormed in the direction of his bedroom.
He walked to his balcony and looked down where his statue would be. The job would take almost all the gold in the entire realm. The plan was to cast the whole figure lying on its back then hoist it up with thick chains.
The next few weeks went by gruelingly slow. I saw everything through the king’s eyes. I sensed his impatience grow. So, he called upon workers from the other provinces to help with the work. Little did he know his madness was aggravating the people. They secretly cursed at his name and some even wished he were dead. I recall Nithos giving King Diethen a final chance. But this time the righteous wizard appeared to him in a dream.
In the dream Nithos was in a deep blue mantle and his eyes glistened with wisdom. “I give you a final ultimatum; give the scepter to me or chaos will permeate the realm.”
“What! Where am I? How are you talking with me!”
“You are having a dream.”
“Well I won’t relinquish the scepter – neither here or in reality.”
“Then I will show you the future if you keep it.”
In a flash of light he and the wizard were whisked to the highest tower of the castle. Diethen was horrified at what he saw below. As far as he could see, fires and warfare consumed the land. Bodies of women and children were sprawled on the ground like trash. Then he was more alarmed at the man who was holding me, the Scepter of Evermore; it was his advisor Talith!
“Why is my advisor holding the scepter?”
“Your madness will bring about your own assassination at his hands. But in time, he too will be corrupted by the Scepter of Evermore.”
Diethen stepped back. “This…this is not real! It’s an allusion! You’re using you sorcery to beguile me! Be gone at once!”
Suddenly he awoke in a hot sweat. He stumbled from his bed and rushed to his long chest where he kept me. The king clutched me tightly to his chest. “Foul wizard. It will take more than tricks and shadows to fool me.”
I wished I could speak to him – to sway him to turn from his folly. But now that he knew that his advisor Talith, would eventually betray him, Diethen committed him to prison. I was glad he was not executed. This was mercy so some part of the king still had a tinge of goodness left. I remember when Talith was arrested by the guards in the middle of the night in his living quarters and the king was there grasping me.
“What is the meaning of this!” The advisor demanded as two guards took him by the arms.
“Come quietly please,” said one of the guards.
“My Lord, I’ve done nothing wrong!
Diethen stared silently at his advisor with a searing gaze.
Talith was dragged out of his room looking with tearful eyes. “My Lord, why is this?”
The king was unmoved and uttered one word. “Traitor.”
“What do you speak of? Why do you charge me as a transgressor?”
Diethen stood still as Talith was hauled off. The king turned about. Then he grasped his chest like he was in pain. I heard the very faint voice of what was left of his conscience. Why are you doing this to your closest friend and ally?
The convicted man grabbed his chest harder. A small tear came from his eye. But that sliver of care was quickly quenched as he shook his head. “Hmmf! Who knows when he would have taken the scepter from me?”
Diethen exited the castle and entered the courtyard where the golden image was being forged and pieced together. The task was grueling and the people worked around the clock.
The king smiled, imagining what his grand reflection would look like in all its beauty. Then he walked to the royal gardens to bask in the daylight. As he made his way past the roses, oaks, tulips and scores of butterflies, he dipped his hand in a small fountain. The coolness was relieving and it made him sigh with contentment.
The consoled soul left from the other edge of the garden. There, he saw the outer wilderness where a river led to open lake the fed into an ocean. As was his habit since young adulthood, he walked to the edge of the river where a dock was. A large skiff was tethered to a wooden pole. He loosed it and shoved off.
An hour later, he entered the lake. Diethen sat as he ran his hand through the water. The king looked behind him. A large rowboat with at least twenty rowers was nearing him by the minute. The boat was one of the royal vessels with the wooden figurehead of a phoenix at the bow. Three guards stood on the boat.
“What are they doing here? I gave no such order.”
When other vessel was a twelve yards away, Diethen called out. “For what reason have you taken it upon yourselves to go on a joyride on my ship!”
Once the three guard’s faces were close enough to discern, the king saw a defiant, angry glare from them. They didn’t say anything.
Diethen was getting a turning in his stomach. I sensed his fear as the obviously hostile men came ever closer, without a word.
Then Diethen used me to send my magical force to levitate the three and dump them in the water. Only two surfaced and splashed about. Where was the third guard? Could he not swim? I heard him think to himself. But when the rowers overtook the king’s boat the two men climbed onto their larger vessel.
“You’ve become a tyrant Diethen! The scepter has corrupted you! You’ve become like Corinth!”
“How dare you!”
While the altercation took place, both vessels where drifting to the drop off of the waterfall that poured into the ocean. Soon they would be in rapid waters teetering both boats.
“Feel the power of fire!” just as the king raised me to expel a fearsome fire attack, something sharp came out of his chest. Blood poured out by his feet. He looked down and saw a protruding piece of metal soaked with his blood.
He fell to his knees leaning on me. Diethen turned and saw the missing guard frowning at him.
“We’ve waited for you to go on one of your little excursions to the lake. It’s been planned for months.” The guard began to cry. “Why did you make us do it?” he sobbed. “Your kingdom loved you!
The raging waters picked up speed. Suddenly, the small skiff was tossed into the air by a large rapid sending Diethen’s attacker on his back. He turned around with seething, clenched teeth to face the guard who stabbed him.
His plan was to make the guard die with him in a final act of defiance. I felt my wielder gather his remaining strength to unleash a bolt of lightning from the sky as he kneeled over the fallen man.
Diethen sneered. “We’ll die together!”
But before summoning his magical offence, one of the two remaining guards grasped me by my metal head, causing the bolt to strike to the right of the fallen man, splitting the skiff in to pieces of drift wood.
The waterfall that poured into the ocean was only about three dozen yards away. yet even while the king was inches from death, he held on to me like life force. The water around him was turning red from his blood.
Then the one who had caused the bolt to miss cried out. “Use the scepter! Lift us onto the shore!”
But Diethen was fading into oblivion. He had no more strength. His grip on me released and he sank as he and the other man went over the edge of the raging waterfall.
I emerged from the base of the fall, floating. A strange property that made me buoyant was the magical metal Merlin made me with he called star flint. And only magic could destroy me. On and on I floated in the silvery green, Emerald Ocean. Was this to be my final state? As I wondered, I was picked up by a coarse hand. Immediately, I sensed him; it was Nithos. He somehow knew I had a mind and senses. He spoke to me.
“I release you from your bondage. Be free!” With those words he hurled me vertically high into the air. He clapped his hands and I exploded in a burst of light and faded like a dying star. My essence passed on into the great beyond and entered the realm where time and substance continues forever.